From the office of Del. Kathy Szeliga:
Legislature reduces taxes, cuts budget, signs bill to protect Transportation Trust Fund and goes home for the 2011 Legislative Session…….
APRIL FOOLS DAY!!!
Unfortunately, taxes are going up, the budget has not been cut, special funds from all kinds of sources have been raided. Fortunately, we will be finished with the legislative session on April 11.
Primary Election Day Changed to Protect Our Military Voters:
HB 671, Federal Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act Compliance, passed out of the House of Delegates earlier this week unanimously.
In order to make sure that our military service men and women serving our country abroad have time to get their ballots returned in time, the gubernatorial primary election day had to be changed.
The presidential primary is being changed after it was moved up for the 2008 election. Recent rules adopted by the national parties require Maryland to move the presidential primary after April 1.
Presidential Elections – 1st Tuesday in April
Gubernatorial Elections -Last Tuesday in June
That means that April 3, 2012, just one short year away, we will be voting in the next presidential primary election!
The gubernatorial primary election will be held on June 24, 2014.
This was an important change to be sure that the military vote gets counted.
Fooling Taxpayers on April 1st!
How do you fool the taxpayers in 3 easy steps?
1. Raise fees and assessments and pretend like they are not “taxes.”
Here is a recap of the money coming out of your pocket later this year:
– Car tax – Car titling fees increased from $50 to $100
– Land tax – Land recording fees increased from $20 to $40
– Baby tax – Birth certificate fees increased from $12 to $24
– Health Care tax – Hospital assessments increased 2.5%
– Granny tax – Nursing home assessments raised to 5.5% (was 2% in 2009)
– Construction tax – 2% tax on IWIF worker’s compensation insurance
2. Get someone else to introduce a NEW TAX:
ALCOHOL TAX PASSES SENATE! Earlier this week, the Senate passed a bill to increase taxes on alcohol. It will increase 1% per year ramping up 3% to impose a total of 9% sales tax on alcohol in Maryland on July 1, 2013.
The alcohol tax has moved out of the Senate by a vote of 27 – 19.
You can find the details on this bill as well as the vote from the Senate by going here:
Senate Bill 994
I cannot support raising the alcohol tax to 9%. This legislation has the potential of putting Maryland liquor stores near the Delaware boarder out of business! Delaware has NO sales tax while Maryland will have 9% sales tax on liquor.
We should never promote policies that will put small business out of business in Maryland. I’m voting no.
3. Hidden taxes on teachers and state employees:
As part of the pension reform measures to address the looming $35 Billion pension deficit, state employees and teachers will be required to put in an additional 2% from their wages into the pension system (5% – 7%).
The Governor will be taking that extra 2% contribution from state employees and teachers and putting it in the General Fund for at least 2 years! I call this a tax on teachers and state workers.
Because the Teachers Union and State Employees Union blindly support this current governor (Teachers Union endorsed him before there was even a Republican in the race), I’m sure there will be no complaining or nashing of teeth over this policy. After all, this Governor is giving state employees a $750 bonus and a guaranteed 3% and then 2% COLA over the next two years.
Gender Identity Update
HB 235, Human Relations – Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity – Antidiscrimination, passed out of the House of Delegates with a vote of 86-52.
This bill would include transsexuals (people who have had “sex-change” surgery), transvestites (cross-dressers) in the Anti-discrimination list for housing, employment and other things.
I voted against this bill but we could not stop it from passing. I was shocked at the number of delegates who spoke in favor of this bill on the House floor and said that men who dress like women are “normal.”
Fortunately, I do not think this bill will get out of the Senate. I hear the measure is dead for the year.
Medical marijuana legislation has been around the Maryland legislature for a number of years. This year’s bill, HB 291, would have established marijuana as a schedule II controlled substance. During the bill hearing, Dr. Sharfstein, MD, Maryland’s Secretary of Health and Mental Hygiene, expressed reservations and concerns about moving this legislation along without first doing a thorough study of the issue. Although the bill had a lot of cosponsors, others came to Annapolis to express reservations and concerns as well.
In response to the bill hearing, the entire bill was stricken and converted into a task force/work group bill. It did pass out of the House of Delegates on March 26 by a vote of 106-28. I voted against this bill to show my deep reservations about legalizing marijuana.
The United States is the world leader in medical and pharmacological research. The FDA oversees the development and advancement of drugs to ensure patient safety and drug reliability. There are companies now in the process of developing marijuana based pharmaceuticals. If the objective of advancing marijuana is for medical purposes, I fully support marijuana reaching the market through the excellent system we’ve already established. After all, pharmaceutical companies could make a lot of money developing marijuana if it is truly for medical purposes. However, I believe this is about more than using marijuana for medical purposes.
I don’t think we will know the final outcome of medical marijuana until next week. I’ll keep you updated…
Thanks for your continued support and encouragement. I am humbled and honored to be representing you and your family in Annapolis.
Maryland House of Delegates